Sunday, May 31, 2015

 It looks like summer is finally upon us. The dogs want to go outside, they really do, but a nap on the couch is much easier to handle.

The alpacas, on the other hand, have nice cool barn they could be laying about in. And where are they? Sunbathing for all they’re worth. (You’ll have to take my word for it that they where all sleeping right before I took this, but they saw the camera and immediately jumped up to see if I was bringing them something tasty.)
We have been splitting the difference as we tend yard and house. Though yesterday we took a well-deserved break from work and took the Suzuki out to the Pinal Mountains for some off-roading.
While we were driving we came across a lovely metal sign that read “Grannies Pass”. Intrigued we stopped and got out. A short walk off the trail we came upon a small, well, I guess you would call it a cemetery. There were seven or eight memorials. Some simple crosses, others elaborate affairs of metal engravings and concrete. Some were placed quite recent; I noticed a date from last year on one. We have no idea who placed the memorials, but they found a very peaceful place for their friends or
families to spend eternity.
But rest time is over and now it’s back to work. The gardens have been producing nicely. We had the first corn of the season last night. Yummmmmmy!  Last year I left the ears too long on the stalks and most of the corn got tough. This year I picked off a bunch and spent the morning shucking and blanching the ears in preparation for freezing. I also did a mess of green beans, pureed some cucumbers for freezing in ice trays, (you can use the cuke cubes for smoothies through out the year) and shredded a bunch of zucchinis to freeze for zucchini bread down the road when we are not completely sick of it.
I learned a nifty trick to get all the air out of the freezer bags when preparing the veggies for the freezer. Fill up a bowl with water. Place the desired amount of food in the freezer bag.
Then submerse the open bag into the water up to the seal point.
Zip it close and, viola, minimal air left behind!
I wonder if this method would work for fleece bags? I think I will probably not try and find out.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring is coming, I promise.

palo verde in bloom
Pomegranate in bloom
I’ve been away from the blog for a while. In honor of my return, I’m dedicating this blog to all my friends and family back east where they feel that Spring is never going to arrive.
Poppies (in bloom)

The gardens are starting to fill in. In the back, we just tilled the green litter in as extra compost. Didn’t really think about it until little corn plants started popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, the volunteer corn is Golden Bantam, while we actually planted Blue Hopi corn in that bed. I assume the two verities will cross-pollinate and we’ll end up with …Blue Bantam? Golden Hopi? Whatever. Should be interesting.

All the rinds and seeds from the Desert King watermelons from last summer went into the compost bins, and the compost bins went into the front garden. Now I have tiny watermelon plants pretty much everywhere. Considering the number of watermelons we got off of just three plants last year, I’ve a suspicion we’re going to up to our eyeballs in watermelons before too long.

Speaking of which, the great watermelon wine-bottling event took place this weekend. And we finally tasted our brew. Here’s what I can tell; it’s not horrible. If you taste it with “wine” in the back of your mind, you’re going to be disappointed. Watermelons don’t taste like grapes, never have, never will. But if you just have “alcohol” as your starting point, well by golly, we’ve got that part right! This stuff has a pretty good kick. And a vague melony-cinnamon, smoky kind of taste. I’m thinking some ginger ale, fresh fruit and a good chill and this stuff would make really tasty sangria.

And I’ve got fifteen bottles of the stuff, so if any local peeps want some, come and get it!


We had a bit of sad news over the winter. We lost Godiva, the first alpaca we ever owned, to old age. We buried her in the boy’s field. That’s where she wanted to be most of the time anyway, so it seemed fitting.

The rest of the herd is doing well. We’ll be shearing them next weekend. I think this year, since I have so much less free time with the job I started last summer; we’ll be sending a fair amount of fleece out for processing. I just don’t have the hours to dedicate to spinning, weaving or felting. I miss it, but as I slowly adjust to working 40 plus hours again, I’m hoping to get back into it, even if not on the same level as before.

For now, I’m going to take some of this rare free time to sit back, sip some killer-melon wine, and daydream about what I’m going to try fermenting next.